LONG-term casualty Lee Paterson could be back in action by the time Halifax kick off their Northern Rail Cup programme at Dewsbury on Sunday week.
The former Swinton and Rochdale threequarter, the top points scorer outside Super League in 2010, has been sidelined for almost six months after undergoing a knee reconstruction.
But Paterson returned to full training for the first time this week, with coach Karl Harrison telling Courier Sport the player could make his comeback in a planned under 23 friendly against Featherstone next Friday.
“Paterson’s doing everything in training now, including contact, so he’s getting close to playing again,” said Harrison.
“The 23s are down at North Wales Crusaders on Sunday, which will probably come too soon for him, but the Featherstone game at the end of next week is a possible target.
“He’s been exceptional with his rehab; he’s worked extremely hard, doing everything by the book, and then he’s been doing extras as well.
“He wasn’t a player I knew before I came back to the club last year but I’ve been impressed with him.”
Paterson’s return would significantly bolster Harrison’s backline options, with the player able to play both centre and wing.
Harrison is still missing another utility back, James Haley, with a shoulder problem, while the extent of the knee injury that has kept autumn signing Mick Nanyn out of the last three games is not yet clear.
“Having Paterson back would certainly increase the competition for places in those positions,” said Harrison.
Bradford have given a 12-month contract to former Halifax prop Phil Joseph after the conclusion of successful trials.
The 26-year-old, who previously played with Huddersfield, and Swinton, impressed coach Mick Potter in pre-season and is thrilled to be back in a full-time environment.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” Joseph said. “I’ve worked really hard to get to this level and I’m just really happy.
“I’m very proud and honoured to be at Bradford. It’s a great club and this is the biggest achievement in my life.”
HALIFAX’S Championship rivals Leigh have confirmed the appointment of Paul Rowley as their head coach for 2012.
Rowley, the former Fax hooker, had been in interim charge since the exit of Australian Ian Millward at the end of last season and masterminded the 44-14 pre-season win over his old club at the LSV a fortnight ago.
The Centurions had been linked with several overseas candidates, notably the former Castleford centre Richie Blackmore and the ex-Leeds and Australia forward Matt Adamson.
Problems with work permits are believed to have scuppered those deals, although both men are believed to be in the running for a new post of ‘general manager’.